Black Mold and Mold Toxins: The Best Research
on the Indoor Toxic Stachybotrys chartarum
Below is a brief Introduction to the exceptional article,
Stachybotrys chartarum: The Toxic Indoor Mold,
by Dr. Berlin Nelson, a mold science expert
Stachybotrys chartarum or "Black mold" has become more feared by some people than scenes from a fright movie. Is it really something to be concerned with or is it just hype? What do we make of adults and children who report not feeling well in homes, buildings and schools?
In his superb article, Dr. Nelson clearly proves that this fungus or mold is indeed a serious problem in homes and buildings and one of the causes of the "sick building syndrome." Sometimes the illness is obvious, and in our book, we show it is sometimes very hard to see immediately. Dr. Nelson mentions one example in the 90's where a significant number of infants had severe lung problems -- S. chartarum or black mold was found in their Ohio homes.
Black mold can grow in indoor areas with significant humidity that lasts only days. An innocent workman can carry spores into any facility during construction, or workers, homeowners or students after construction. So if there is going to be control, it is in the area of water, flooding, leak, and humidity control.
As someone treating patients for mold related medical problems, which number over 50 different possible symptoms, I am very concerned about the incredibly casual approach taken to post-hurricane or post flooded homes and buildings by home owners, contractors, and supposed mold experts. It seems folks understandably are shocked, but need to appreciate that if the water is not gone fast, the mold destruction clock is ticking. And I do mean like a deadly bomb.
Some toxic molds, like some species of aspergillus, easily release spores into the air. And black stachy when dried can cause serious problems -- especially if moved around by unknowing workers. Dr. Nelson mentions the work of Hinkley and Jarvis who have shown that black mold has clear active toxic chemicals that effect humans.
Dr. Nelson kindly lists the many toxins for experts but for us let me merely list GROUPS of sample toxic agents:
- Macrocylic trichothecenes -- these are highly toxic compounds with a potent ability to inhibit protein making.
- Phenylspirodrimanes (spirolactones and spirolactams) and cyclosporine -- these chemicals toxins are potent immunosuppressive agents.
- Stachylysin, a hemolysin, is found in some black mold and explodes red blood cells.
These chemicals and others being discovered are believed to be involved in the deaths of horse eating straw or feed with modest amounts of the black mold on them. Humans also have been reported to become ill with different symptoms on occasional farms with this type of feed.
Croft reported illness in a Chicago home where sampling found stachy in a cold air duct and on some wood fiber ceiling material. The family complained of headaches, sore throats, flu symptoms, recurring colds, diarrhea, fatigue, skin trouble, and general malaise.
In general, though, many authors report that most home with toxic mold have multiple species and that all work in different ways with different chemical toxins to cause illness.
Dr. Nelson offers some excellent pictures. One shows small amounts of Black mold along the floor of a flooded hall. www.apsnet.org/online/view.asp?ID=86
In conclusion, for those that want to read one of the finest articles on Black mold or Stachybotrys chartarum, one of the more serious toxic molds, please go to: www.apsnet.org/online/feature/stachybotrys/.
This excellent article is posted with this notice: Copyright 2001 The American Phytopathological Society.
My thanks to author Dr. Berlin Nelson & Michelle Bjerkness, Director of Membership & Communications at the American Phytopathological Society